Institute
Chapter 21: Doctrine and Covenants 57–58
Footnotes

Hide Footnotes

Theme

“Chapter 21: Doctrine and Covenants 57–58,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 21,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 21

Doctrine and Covenants 57–58

Introduction and Timeline

In obedience to the Lord’s command to convene a Church conference in Missouri (see D&C 52:2–5), the Prophet Joseph Smith and several others traveled approximately 900 miles from Ohio to Missouri. On July 20, 1831, a few days after arriving in Jackson County, Missouri, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 57. In this revelation the Lord declared that Independence, Missouri, was to be the center place of the city of Zion and its temple, and He instructed several individuals regarding their roles in building Zion.

On August 1, 1831, less than two weeks after Joseph received the revelation designating Independence as the center place of Zion, some Church members approached the Prophet desiring to know the Lord’s will concerning their participation in the building of Zion. In response, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 58. In this revelation the Lord instructed the Saints regarding principles on which the city Zion was to be established, including obedience to the commandments, faithfulness in tribulation, the use of agency to bring about righteousness, and repentance and forgiveness.

July 14, 1831

Joseph Smith and his traveling companions arrived in Jackson County, Missouri.

July 20, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 57 was received.

Late July, 1831

The Colesville Saints and several elders arrived in Jackson County.

August 1, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 58 was received.

August 2–3, 1831

Land in Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated for the establishment of Zion, and a site for the temple was dedicated in Independence, Missouri.

Doctrine and Covenants 57: Additional Historical Background

The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught that “the building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2011], 186). Many of the early Saints also eagerly anticipated the establishment of Zion. As part of the Restoration, the Lord provided the Saints with incremental revelation about the building up of the city of Zion upon the earth in the last days. For example, from the Book of Mormon the Saints learned that the city of Zion, or the New Jerusalem, would be located on the American Continent (see 3 Nephi 20:22; 21:23–24; Ether 13:2–10).

In a revelation given in September 1830, the Lord explained that He would not reveal the exact location of the city of Zion at that time but that it would be located “on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9). In December 1830, as the Prophet Joseph Smith worked on his inspired translation of the Bible, he learned that during the troubled times of the last days, the Lord would preserve His people and gather them in the “Holy City” of Zion (see Moses 7:60–62). On February 9, 1831, the Lord explained that He would reveal “where the New Jerusalem shall be built” in His “own due time” (D&C 42:62). Just one month later, the Prophet received a revelation indicating that Zion would be “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety” in a wicked world (D&C 45:66–67). The Saints’ anticipation about Zion grew when in June 1831 the Lord commanded that the next Church conference “be held in Missouri, upon the land which I will consecrate unto my people” (D&C 52:2). In this same revelation the Lord promised to reveal “the land of [their] inheritance” if Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon remained faithful (D&C 52:5).

In obedience to the Lord’s command to convene a Church conference in Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith and a few traveling companions left Kirtland, Ohio, to go there on June 19, 1831. In addition, the Lord called a number of priesthood holders to travel in pairs to Missouri and to preach the gospel as they traveled (see D&C 52:7–10, 22–33; 56:5–7). After traveling approximately 900 miles, the Prophet and his companions arrived first in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on July 14, 1831. There they were met by Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Ziba Peterson, who had been called in the fall of 1830 as missionaries to preach the gospel to the Lamanites (see D&C 28:8; 30:5–8; 32:2–3). These missionaries were accompanied by a recent convert to the Church, Frederick G. Williams, who asked Oliver Cowdery if he could join them in their travels.

According to Joseph Smith’s history, when the Prophet arrived in Independence, he spent time contemplating the establishment of Zion and the situation of the American Indians living across the border of Missouri. His contemplation led him to wonder: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose; when will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will thy Temple stand unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 127, josephsmithpapers.org). Subsequently, on July 20, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 57.

Church History Maps: The Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa Area of the United States

Doctrine and Covenants 57

The Lord reveals the location of Zion and instructs individuals regarding their roles in building it up

Doctrine and Covenants 57:1–3. The Lord declares the location of the city of Zion

In response to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inquiry, the Lord revealed that Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, was “the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion” (D&C 57:2). The site for the city of Zion was located just below a bend in the Missouri River and about 10 miles east of the Missouri-Indian territory line (currently the Missouri-Kansas border). The land that makes up Missouri and several surrounding states had become part of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After the purchase, new settlers, mostly from other southern states, moved into Missouri to settle the land. Missouri became a state in 1821, and in 1826 the state legislature created Jackson County. The newly settled town of Independence, which was located along a trade road called the Santa Fe Trail, became the county seat. At the time of this revelation, Jackson County had only a few hundred residents and a few public buildings, including the county courthouse.

Doctrine and Covenants 57:3. “Independence is the center place”

When the Lord designated Jackson County, Missouri, as the place where the city of Zion would be built, He indicated that the city of Independence would be “the center place” (D&C 57:3). Being the center place refers, in part, to the role that Zion, or the New Jerusalem, will have as one of the two capitals (the other being Jerusalem) of the Lord’s kingdom during the Millennium (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1955], 3:71). From this location the Lord Himself will oversee the activity and processes of His kingdom.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of Zion as the “center place” when he taught the following: “Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fulness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fulness of the ordinances of the Lord’s house may be administered. But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth. … And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people. The site is selected; the place is known; the decree has gone forth; and the promised destiny is assured” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 595).

Historic Jackson County Courthouse, Jackson Co. Independence, Missouri

The historic Jackson County Courthouse in Independence, Missiouri, was built on the location of an earlier two-story brick courthouse, one-half mile east of the temple site and mentioned by the Lord in revelation (see D&C 57:3).

Doctrine and Covenants 57:3. “A spot for the temple”

In addition to revealing the place for the city of Zion, the Lord also declared that the spot for the temple was “lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse” (D&C 57:3). This temple will be built in the last days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the significance of the temple that will be built in Independence, Missouri: “As to the temple unto which all nations shall come in the last days, it shall be built in the New Jerusalem before the Second Coming, all as a part of the preparatory processes that will make ready a people for their Lord’s return” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 595).

Plat Mat of City of Zion

The plat map for the City of Zion was prepared under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith and sent to the Saints in Missouri in June 1833, along with architectural plans for the first temple in Zion.

About two years after he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 57, the Prophet Joseph Smith received additional revelation concerning the spot where the temple would be constructed. In 1833, the Prophet had a plat map drawn for the city of Zion that depicted a temple complex of 24 buildings to be constructed next to each other in Independence (see History of the Church, 1:357–59). The gathering to and the building up of the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem, as declared by the Lord, will begin at “the place of the temple” (D&C 84:4).

Doctrine and Covenants 57:4–5. “It is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints”

In an earlier revelation, the Lord commanded the Saints to “save all the money that [they could] in righteousness” so they could be prepared to purchase land in Zion when the Lord revealed the location to them (D&C 48:4–5). After revealing the location of Zion, the Lord told the elders to buy every tract of land “lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile” (D&C 57:4). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained that the line running directly between Jew and Gentile “has reference to the line separating the Lamanites [or American Indians] from the settlers in Jackson County. At this time the United States Government had given to the Indians the lands west of the Missouri, only later to take them away again. The Lamanites, who are Israelites, were referred to as Jews, and the Gentiles were the people, many of whom were of the lawless element, living east of the river” (Church History and Modern Revelation [1953], 1:206).

During this period of time in the western United States, many settlers used the practice of “squatting” in order to acquire property. This meant that they would settle on unoccupied land or property with the intent to later register their claim at the county courthouse. By the summer of 1831 when this revelation was given, most of the land that the Lord commanded the Saints to buy had already been claimed by settlers, thus requiring the Saints to purchase the property from them. In obedience to the Lord’s command to purchase property, in December 1831, Bishop Edward Partridge purchased 63 acres from Jones Hoy Flournoy (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 129). This piece of property became known as the temple lot because it included the land the Lord designated for the temple.

Doctrine and Covenants 57:7–16. The Lord directs individuals to plant themselves in the land of Zion and instructs them regarding their roles in building Zion

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 57:7–16, the Lord directed several elders to “plant” themselves in Jackson County, Missouri. To be “planted” implies that the Lord intended for these men to remain in Jackson County and develop the area and make it their new home. This commandment may have come as a shock to some of these men who had no idea they would be asked to stay in Missouri when they left their homes in Ohio just one month earlier.

Missouri. Jackson Co. Independence

Modern day aerial view of Independence, Missouri, showing some of the land purchased by the Saints in 1831 for the eventual City of Zion and temple (see D&C 57:4–6).

The command to stay in Missouri was not easy. Those asked to stay had to worry about moving their families from Ohio and creating a new life on the American frontier. Bishop Edward Partridge wrote a letter to his wife, Lydia, in which he “broke the news that he wouldn’t be returning to Ohio that summer and instead asked that she and their five daughters join him on the Missouri frontier. Additionally, instead of being able to return to Ohio to help them move that fall, he wrote, ‘Brother Gilbert or I must be here to attend the sales in Dec. [and] not knowing that he can get back by that time I have thought it advisable to stay here for the present contrary to [my] expectations.’ He also warned that once she joined him in Missouri, ‘We have to suffer [and] shall for some time many privations here which you [and] I have not been much used to for year[s]’ [Letter, Aug. 5, 1831, in Edward Partridge letters, 1831–1835, Church History Library]. … Lydia willingly obeyed the revelation to move, packing her home and gathering her five daughters to travel west to a place she had never seen before” (Sherilyn Farnes, “A Bishop unto the Church,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 79–80, history.lds.org).

Doctrine and Covenants 58: Additional Historical Background

In the later part of July 1831, some of the elders who had been preaching the gospel while traveling to Missouri, along with the members of the Colesville Branch, began arriving in western Missouri. Some of the new arrivals had expected to find a thriving community of new converts, but they were disappointed by what they found. Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Frederick G. Williams had arrived at the edge of the Missouri frontier in January 1831 and began to have success among the American Indians, but because they had not obtained the proper permits to be in Indian Territory and because of opposition from local Indian agents and ministers, the missionaries were forced to leave. After being expelled from Indian Territory in February 1831, the missionaries preached to the white settlers in Jackson County. Though the missionaries had been working hard, fewer than 10 converts had joined the Church by the time the Prophet Joseph Smith and the elders began arriving in Missouri in July 1831. Rather than finding an organized settlement large enough to accommodate the migrating Saints, the new arrivals found a small frontier community where the land was largely undeveloped (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 12).

During this same time, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Bishop Edward Partridge had a disagreement regarding the land that was to be purchased for the Saints. Bishop Partridge felt that other parcels of land should be purchased instead of the ones designated by the Prophet (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 12–13). In these circumstances, and faced with the prospect of building Zion, the Prophet received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 58.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–13

The Lord counsels the elders to be faithful in tribulation

Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–13. The foreknowledge of God

While some of the elders expressed disappointment in what they found in Missouri, many of the recently arrived Colesville Saints and several other elders were eager and anxious to learn what they could do to help establish Zion. Before giving the newly arrived Saints the specific instructions they were seeking, the Lord prophesied the destiny of Zion and the Saints. As part of this prophecy, the Lord told the Saints that they would experience tribulation but promised that if they were “faithful in tribulation” their reward would be “greater in the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 58:2). The Lord also told the Saints that they were “honored in laying the foundation” of Zion (D&C 58:7), implying that the completion of Zion would not occur in their day but sometime in the future.

Temple lot, Independence, Missouri [ca. early 1900s]

Photo of the area in Independence, Missouri, that the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated in August 1831 for the building of a latter-day temple, commonly referred to today as the temple lot

Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the Lord’s foreknowledge concerning the establishment of Zion:

“At all events, what occurred must have been foreseen. Divine prescience [foreknowledge] extends to all things connected with the Lord’s work. When He commanded his people to build the New Jerusalem, he knew how much, or how little, they were capable of accomplishing in that direction—knew it just as well before as he did after. Such a thing as surprise or disappointment on his part is inconceivable. An all-wise, all-powerful Being who has created, peopled, redeemed and glorified ‘millions of earths like this’ [Moses 7:30], is not one to be astounded by anything that happens on our little planet.

“… The All-knowing One knew in advance what those Zion-builders would do, or leave undone, and he shaped his plans accordingly. Evidently the time was not ripe for Zion’s redemption. The Saints were not ready to build the New Jerusalem” (Saturday Night Thoughts: A Series of Dissertations on Spiritual, Historical, and Philosophic Themes [1921], 187).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:3. “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God”

Some of the early Saints had preconceived notions about the establishment of Zion in their day. Many of them believed that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was imminent. Consequently, some may have believed that the building of Zion and of the temple there would happen quickly and without much difficulty. However, the Lord cautioned the Saints, “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter” (D&C 58:3). The Lord went on to enlighten the Saints that they would face tribulation, but He promised that ultimately, if they stayed faithful, they would be “crowned with much glory” (see D&C 58:3–6). Similarly, we can sometimes have preconceived notions that may not match God’s plan. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a statement by the author C. S. Lewis, who explained that we do not always understand what God has in store for us:

“C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, describes our relationship with God in a special way that can help us to appreciate how submitting ourselves to his will is the only way that spiritual growth can occur:

“‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. …’ (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1952, p. 160.)” (“The Value of Home Life,” Ensign, Feb. 1972, 5).

Along with wanting the Saints to build the city of Zion, the Lord had additional reasons for commanding them to settle in western Missouri. He revealed that His purposes included preparing the hearts of His people, teaching them obedience, and preparing them to bear testimony of His work (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:5–13).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:8–11. “A feast of fat things, of wine on the lees”

The Lord told the Saints that one of the reasons that He wanted them to lay the foundation of Zion was to help prepare “a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined” (D&C 58:8). This parallels Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord would “make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees” (Isaiah 25:6). These two symbols of the feast—“fat things” and “wine on the lees”—are signs of richness, indicating that this feast is of great importance. The Lord also told the early Saints that “all nations shall be invited” to this feast, “the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble; … the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf” (D&C 58:9–11; see also Matthew 22:1–10). This prophecy teaches that all nations will be invited to partake of the rich blessings of the gospel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–33

The Lord outlines the duties of a bishop, commands the Saints to keep the laws of the land, and counsels them to use their agency to do good

Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–16. “Let him take heed lest he fall”

In response to the disagreement between Bishop Edward Partridge and the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the quality of the land to be purchased in Zion, the Lord rebuked Bishop Partridge and warned him that his “unbelief and blindness of heart” could lead to his fall if he did not repent (D&C 58:15). Bishop Partridge accepted the Lord’s warning and rebuke with humility. In a letter to his wife, Lydia, a few days after this revelation was received, Bishop Partridge illustrated his humility: “You know I stand in an important station, … [and] as I am occasionally chastened I sometimes feel as though I must fall, not to give up the cause, but I fear my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my heavenly father. … Pray for me that I may not fall” (quoted in Farnes, “A Bishop unto the Church,” 81, history.lds.org).

In a revelation given on September 11, 1831, the Lord indicated that Edward Partridge had sinned, but He said that if he repented he would be forgiven (see D&C 64:17). Bishop Partridge was later penitent and ultimately forgiven. According to the minutes of a meeting held in March 1832, Bishop Partridge acknowledged that “he [was] & [had] always been sorry” for the disagreement between him and the Prophet Joseph Smith (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 62).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:16–20. “Appointed to be a judge in Israel”

The Lord called Bishop Edward Partridge to direct the efforts to establish and build up the city of Zion. He also instructed Bishop Partridge and Sidney Gilbert to stay in Missouri to manage the properties of the Church and to purchase land in and around Independence, Missouri. Bishop Partridge’s chief responsibility was to administer the law of consecration by receiving the consecrations of the Saints and giving them their stewardships (see D&C 41:9–11; 42:30–35, 71–73; 51; 57:7, 15). He was also responsible for judging God’s people according to God’s law (see D&C 58:17–18). President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained some of the ways bishops judge the people: “It is a fearsome and awesome responsibility to stand as a judge of the people. You must be their judge in some instances as to worthiness to hold membership in the Church, worthiness to enter the house of the Lord, worthiness to be baptized, worthiness to receive the priesthood, worthiness to serve missions, worthiness to teach and to serve as officers in the organizations. You must be the judge of their eligibility in times of distress to receive help from the fast offerings of the people and commodities from the storehouse of the Lord” (“The Shepherds of Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 61).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:24–25. “They shall counsel between themselves and me”

The Lord told Bishop Edward Partridge and his counselors to make the land of Missouri their place of residence. These men were also told to bring their families to Missouri, “as they shall counsel between themselves and me” (D&C 58:25). The instruction to counsel together and with the Lord is a pattern that we as Latter-day Saints should follow as we seek inspiration and guidance from the Lord. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “great spiritual power and inspired direction” can come from properly counseling together. He also promised that “there is no problem in the family, ward, or stake that cannot be solved if we look for solutions in the Lord’s way by counseling—really counseling—with one another” (Counseling with Our Councils [1997], 2, 4).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–29. The Lord counsels the Saints to use their agency to do good

As the early Saints sought the Lord’s instructions to accomplish the divine mandate to establish and build up Zion, the Lord told them, “It is not meet that I should command in all things” (D&C 58:26). He also instructed them to use their agency to “do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27). The Lord had commanded these early Saints to establish Zion and had provided them with guiding principles, but He left the specifics of how to do it up to them. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) explained:

“Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded ‘in all things.’ This attitude prepares men for godhood. …

“Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 121–22).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:30–33. “I command and men obey not”

The Lord told the Saints that if they did not obey His command, He would revoke it and take away the blessing they would have received if they had been obedient (see D&C 58:32). This truth served as a warning to the early Saints who were commanded to establish Zion. If they did not obey His commandments, the Lord would revoke the command to establish Zion and the Saints would lose the blessings they might have received.

The Lord also prophesied that if He revoked the command to establish Zion and withheld blessings because of the Saints’ disobedience, some would claim that it was “not the work of the Lord” (D&C 58:33). The Lord warned those who would make this claim that their reward would come from “beneath, and not from above” (D&C 58:33).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:34–65

The Lord gives additional instructions regarding Zion, teaches principles of repentance and forgiveness, and commissions the elders to take the gospel into all the world

Doctrine and Covenants 58:38–42. “The same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more”

The Lord declared that those who repent will be forgiven and He will “remember [their sins] no more” (D&C 58:42). President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2014) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ this promise is true no matter what sins we have committed:

“No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. To me, perhaps the most beautiful phrase in all scripture is when the Lord said, ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ [D&C 58:42].

“That is the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement” (“The Atonement,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 77).

Some mistakenly believe that if they can remember their sins, they have not been forgiven. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency explained why we might remember our sins even after we have been forgiven: “Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time. This will be part of the needed healing and sanctification process” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 101).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:43. “Behold, he will confess them and forsake them”

After teaching the Saints that they can be forgiven of their sins, the Lord revealed the requirements for repentance: confessing and forsaking sin. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described what it means to confess sin: “Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual, ‘I admit it; I’m sorry.’ Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgement of error and offense to God and man” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 40).

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what it means to forsake our sins: “The forsaking of sins implies never returning. Forsaking requires time. To help us, the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory. It is a vital part of our mortal learning” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov 2009, 42).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:50–52. The Lord commands Sidney Rigdon to write a description of the land of Zion

The Lord commanded Sidney Rigdon to “write a description of the land of Zion … as it [was] made known by the Spirit unto him” (D&C 58:50). This description, along with a letter and a subscription, was to be presented to members of the Church to raise money to purchase lands in Missouri (see D&C 58:51). Because photographs were unavailable at the time, Sidney’s description could help members visualize the land and encourage them to donate money.

Troost Lake Park, Commemorative plaque, Jackson Co. Kansas City, Missouri

The Prophet Joseph Smith and 11 other men carried an oak log to begin the foundation for the first Church building and school in Zion, which is commemorated by this monument in Kansas City, Missouri.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:57. “Let my servant Sidney Rigdon consecrate and dedicate this land”

The Lord commanded Sidney Rigdon to dedicate the land of Zion and the spot for the temple (see D&C 58:57). The Prophet Joseph Smith’s history describes the events of the dedication that took place after this revelation was received: “On the [second] day of August, I assisted the Colesville branch of the Church to lay the first log for a house as a foundation of Zion, in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence. The log was carried and placed by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder [Sidney] Rigdon; and it was a season of joy to those present, and afforded a glimpse of the future, which time will yet unfold to the satisfaction of the faithful” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 137, josephsmithpapers.org). The next day, August 3, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated the spot for the temple (see Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1,” page 139).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:46–47, 59, 63–64. The gospel must be preached to everyone

The Lord instructed the elders who had not been commanded to stay in Zion to “preach the gospel in the regions round about; and after that … return to their homes” (D&C 58:46). The Lord charged these early missionaries, just as He had done with His ancient Apostles before His Ascension into heaven (see Matthew 28:19–20), to take the gospel “into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature” (D&C 58:64).

Regarding this charge, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel.

“The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament. …

“Latter-day Saints take seriously this responsibility to teach all people in all nations about the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We believe the same Church founded by the Savior anciently has been reestablished on the earth by Him in the latter days. The doctrine, principles, priesthood authority, ordinances, and covenants of His gospel are found today in His Church. …

“Indeed, we feel a solemn responsibility to carry this message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (“Come and See,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 107).